Having been inspired by well known environmentalists such as Drew Dillinger, Sotogrande students recently visited the Danyadara farm to learn about the permaculture project. Permaculture aims to mimic natural ecosystems to produce food while regenerating, as opposed to degenerating, the natural world.
Jacob Evans, head of the farm, and his colleague Jon Valdivia are not your stereotypical farmers. At 27 years old Jacob has already travelled extensively in Spain and Latin America, developing a phenomenal knowledge of permaculture techniques and practices.
Jacob and Jon explained permaculture's core principles to a group of 60 students against a soundtrack of hip hop beats and high definition videos.
Throwing old jeans to the worms in compost baths, enjoying outdoor showers (the water from which feeds vegetable plots) and growing an edible food forest are just some of the ways in which Jacob and Jon explained that food can be produced using 'closed loop systems' whereby waste is reduced. The Danyadara project is demonstrating that desertification in Andalucía can be reversed using such techniques and provide plentiful and delicious food, increasing biodiversity and allowing children to have a lot of fun in the process.
Inspired by this talk, students set to work in beginning to design the school's own permaculture project. Working in mixed groups, they began to choose the ingredients that they hoped to include in their school-grown, end-of-term lunches.
The school also brought scientists over to test pH values and nutrient levels in order to monitor the impact of permaculture techniques on the fertility of the school's soil. Technology and construction enthusiasts began designing outdoor showers (to include shower heads produced using 3D printers and recycled plastic bottles) and a collection of plastic bottles is under way in order to construct a recycled plastic greenhouse.